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4.5 8
by Common

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"Classic" may be an overused word, but in the case of Common's sixth studio album, Be, it's a fitting descriptor. Helmed by hip-hop's top producer of the moment, Kanye West, the disc features some of Common's best work in years. Gone are the experimental rhythms and jarring riffs of 2002's Electric


"Classic" may be an overused word, but in the case of Common's sixth studio album, Be, it's a fitting descriptor. Helmed by hip-hop's top producer of the moment, Kanye West, the disc features some of Common's best work in years. Gone are the experimental rhythms and jarring riffs of 2002's Electric Circus. Here, the Chicago native goes back to basics with boomin' bass lines and thumpin' drums courtesy of West and Detroit producer J. Dilla. These sonic gems inspire Common to pen poetically honest lyrics about life and love. On "Faithful," featuring crooners John Legend and Bilal, Common illuminates a man's struggle to resist temptation, and on the melodic "Love Is," he explores various definitions of the "L" word. Be isn't limited to matters of the heart, however, as grittier tracks like "Chi City" and "The Food" prove that the veteran mic wrecker can still hold his own in any rap battle. Common also shows he hasn't lost the knack for storytelling he showcased on earlier albums such as Resurrection -- most compellingly on the conceptual "Testify," which vividly retells the tale of a woman watching her lover go down for a crime he didn't commit. With no skits and limited guest appearances, this is a stellar disc that allows this eclectic MC to outshine his peers and to just Be. An instant classic. Anslem Samuel

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Andy Kellman
Electric Circus cost and won Common some fans. It was very exploratory, especially so for a rap album released in 2002, containing developments -- some of which soared, some of which sank -- that few longtime followers could have foreseen. Listeners either felt Common was picking up fresh, new inspirations, or that he was just being distracted by a whole lot of ill-fitting nonsense. With Be, it seems the MC has realized that not every album that's sprawling and eclectic is as good as Electric Ladyland or Songs in the Key of Life. More notably, he might've been struck with the fact that a high percentage of excellent albums are around 40 minutes in length and are built on a unified sound. Be is highly concentrated, containing 11 songs and involving two producers and a small number of guests. It's a 180 degree turn from Electric Circus, and in a bizarre way it's both a progression and a back-to-basics move. Kanye West and Dilla are key to the album's steadiness, rooting the sound in '70s soul and soul-jazz. That's no shakeup, but the two producers deserve some form of award for stringing together a consistent sequence of productions that is never monotonous, dull, or all that flashy. Even lead single "The Corner," heard well before Be's release, falls into the fabric of the album on first listen, as if that were where it belonged all along. Lyrically, Common comes back down to Earth -- the narratives are sharp as ever, the gripes are more like observations than screeds, and the eccentricities need to be teased out rather than swatted away. Be isn't likely to be referred to by anyone as groundbreaking, but it's one of Common's best, and it's also one of the most tightly constructed albums of any form within recent memory.
Rolling Stone - Nathan Brackett
His sixth and best disc.... West is the producer Common has been waiting for all of his career: He makes Common both catchier and edgier at the same time.

Product Details

Release Date:
Geffen Records


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Common   Primary Artist,Rap
Last Poets   Spoken Word
James Poyser   Strings,Keyboards,Various
Karriem Riggins   Percussion,Drums
Kanye West   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Num Amun-Tehu   Percussion
A-Trak   scratching,Turntables
John Mayer   Background Vocals
Derrick Hodge   Double Bass,Acoustic Bass
Bilal   Background Vocals
John Legend   Background Vocals
Lonnie Lynn   Background Vocals
DJ Dummy   scratching,Turntables
Mister Lonnie & The Kids Lynn   Background Vocals
Kids   Track Performer
Luna E   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Sam Cooke   Composer
Marvin Gaye   Composer
General Johnson   Composer
Eugene Record   Composer
Angelo Bond   Composer
Umar Bin Hassan   Composer
Thom Bell   Composer
Eddie Cornelius   Composer
Anna Gordy Gaye   Composer
James Poyser   Audio Production,Instrumentation
Andrew Dawson   Engineer
Common   Executive Producer
Charles Hunt   Engineer
Karriem Riggins   Composer,Producer
Elgie Stover   Composer
Kanye West   Composer,Producer,Executive Producer,Audio Production
Anthony Kilhoffer   Engineer
James Nyx   Composer
Dave Chappelle   Introduction
John Legend   Composer
Cass Bird   Cover Photo
J Dilla   Audio Production
Lonnie Lynn   Composer,Poetry
Darren "ROCK" Darnell   Engineer
Derrick Dudley   Executive Producer
Hulis Mavruk   Art Direction
Jared Zastrow   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This album is wonderful piece of work, the album that most "common sense" fans probably wanted him to get back to. Love it
Guest More than 1 year ago
Man, you just don't understand how much I appreciate hip-hop music. I'm not a real fan of rap because it's usually flashy and simplistic, but hip-hop music breaks Rewind buttons from people saying "What did he/she just say?" Common's music is very articulate, intelligent, creative, inspiring, soulful, and just as important--a head bobber. I'm finding many conscious rappers have terrible beats (or are stuck in that "bring rock music back" cloud--let it go! Black folks don't want it back. That's why we let it go) but Common has learned how to maintain. Yeah, he gets into that rock thing, but he understands that hip-hop headz like hip-hop BEATZ as well as hip-hop LYRICS. This cd is a pleasure to listen to and I can play all the way through. I don't know why, but it took me forever to get into "The Corner" but when it finally connected, it sored. The rest of the cd, I embraced. No favorite. I like it all, minus the dude talking at the end of Number 11--I only need to hear that once.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD has evey thing rap, sould and R&B. Featuring John Mayer and the other John, John Legend... Kanye Rips Tracks Like R.I.P.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Common's music is definitely for the mature music heads. If you are not knowledgable in jazz and old school soul then it will go right over your head. He is what hip-hop needs and it would be foolish for anyone to dismiss his important to the hip-hop. He is a breathe of fresh air in a polluted music world
Guest More than 1 year ago
BE is a classic! I think the marraige of Common's lyrics and Kanye's/J Dilla's beats are perfect. The flows, rhymes and metaphors are razor sharp and now Common has producers that match his lyrics for an entire album. I think it's amazing that with only 11 tracks that he made a perfect album that doesn't need anything else. I wish critics and music fans would really listen to this album more than once or twice, because I still find myself catching metaphors he's laced together from previous albums. BE is arguably his most complete work. He's one of the best that's ever done it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nowhere near as adventurous or stimulating as Electric Circus. Everything after that album will seem kind of boring anyway, even though the first half of B.E. is worth the sticker price. Lyrically, Common is still at the top of his game, but he soon drones off into that stuffy, monotonous rhyming that all of his albums struggle with. The second half isn't bad, just not noteworthy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago